Mental illness, memory loss... Covid leaves crippling footprint

Despite our growing experience in dealing with the pandemic, there seems to be no solution to the struggles of those suffering from post and long Covid issues.

Published: 23rd July 2022 02:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd July 2022 09:15 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: Despite our growing experience in dealing with the pandemic, there seems to be no solution to the struggles of those suffering from post and long Covid issues.

With the studies revealing strong evidence of brain-related abnormalities due to Covid, it is a double whammy for those recovering from the infection, especially those who were infected multiple times.

Apart from psychological issues including anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, depression and sleeplessness, many are showing memory loss and cognitive impairment, say, doctors.

A 45-year-old woman residing in Kochi, who got infected three times, is left with depression and cognitive impairment. According to her daughter, she was energetic before the infection.

“My mother was an avid reader and she was always active at home — taking care of the grandchildren and managing home. But since she recovered from the infection, she fell into severe depression. She even suffered partial memory loss. She was not able to recall the names of the daily used objects and kept herself aloof. It was quite shocking. We took her to a psychiatrist and she is now undergoing treatment and getting better,” said the daughter.

According to experts, neurological and cognitive deficits in Covid-recovered people are found. “Along with behavioural issues, patients with cognitive impairment are also increasing nowadays. Among those who have recovered from Covid, over 50% are seen to develop one or more psychological issues,” said Dr Arun B Nair, psychiatrist with Government Medical College, Thiruvanthapuram.

“Many patients are turning up with sleep disturbance, somatic symptom disorders (extreme focus on physical symptoms such as pain or fatigue causing major emotional distress and problems functioning) and depression. The symptoms vary with age. In youngsters and adolescents, performance anxiety and secondary depression is seen mostly, while in middle-aged, sleeplessness is the main symptom. For elderly, especially among those who were infected multiple times, cognitive impairment issues are seen,” said Dr Arun Nair.

In one such case, a 27-year-old IT professional working at Technopark in Thiruvanthapuram developed anxiety, sleeplessness and obsessive-compulsive disorder when he got infected the second time during the third wave.

According to the doctor who treated him, he was not able to work and even go to the office owing to the fear of getting infected. Though he was permitted to work from home, he was not able to focus and had to seek medical help.  

So is the case of a 19-year-old Kollam native who was actively engaged in preparing for the medical entrance exam. After recovering from Covid for the second time in April this year, he was unable to study due to anxiety and fear.

The boy started to have panic attacks and he began to threaten to commit suicide if his parents forced him to appear for the exam.

“After the first wave itself, it was anticipated that Covid’s impact on the mental health of people will be huge. Day by day, the number of patients is increasing. Fearing and ignoring the psychological symptoms are not the way of approaching it. At least some youngsters are involved in substance abuse like smoking and drinking to cope up with the symptoms. That should not happen. With intervention, these psychological issues can be treated,” said Dr Jayasurya M, a psychiatrist based in Kochi.



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